As we know, reporters in war zones get hurt. In just the most recent war, Michael Kelly died and Bob Woodruff was seriously injured. It’s not new. The famed Robert Capa died in Indochina reporting on the war there. Indeed, reporting can often be a dangerous business, and we can only be grateful to those intrepid souls who are willing to put themselves at risk to tell stories about war or crime. We also recognize that these are people who willingly enter war zones. I, for example, would not go to Iraq; Michelle Malkin, however, will. That’s why I found it perplexing that Spain is again going after American soldiers because their fire killed a Spanish journalist in Baghdad:
A judge on Tuesday reissued an international arrest warrant for three U.S. soldiers whose tank fired on a Baghdad hotel during the Iraq war, killing a Spanish journalist, a court spokesman said.
The National Court dismissed the case in March, but the Supreme Court overruled that decision last month, ordering the investigation into Jose Couso’s killing to be reopened.
Couso, who worked as a cameraman for the Spanish television network Telecinco, died April 8, 2003, after a U.S. army tank crew fired a shell at a hotel in Baghdad where journalists were staying. Taras Portsyuk, a Ukrainian cameraman for Reuters, was also killed.
Following the incident, then-U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said American troops opened fire after drawing hostile fire from the hotel. He said a U.S. review of the incident found the use of force was justified.
The arrest warrant is for Sgt. Shawn Gibson, Capt. Philip Wolford and Lt. Col. Philip de Camp, all from the U.S. 3rd Infantry, which is based in Fort Stewart, Ga.
The United States did not respond to the previous arrest warrant or two requests by National Court Judge Santiago Pedraz to have statements taken from the soldiers.
Although it is unlikely the soldiers will be extradited from the United States, they run the risk of arrest should they travel to any country which has an extradition accord with Spain.
It’s a terrible tragedy that Mr. Couso died but, really, what did anyone think might happen in a Baghdad hotel immediately after the invasion? The reporters weren’t there just to play gin rummy, after all. They were there to tell about a war.
If there is more than meets the eye to this story, please let me know. As it is, I’m struggling to understand why American soldiers are being hunted down for doing what soldiers do in a war: fighting. And please don’t tell me — ’cause I can read it at the Jose Couso memorial website — that the US intentionally targeted journalists to hide some vast conspiracy. I don’t believe it. Believing that story requires believing that there was a concerted, yet highly secretive, action amongst thousands of military personnel, aimed at hundreds of media members, which nevertheless was carried out with startling inefficiency and an openness that belies the whole conspiracy theory to begin with.